El Paso Matters’ bi-monthly book club continues in April with a fascinating book that examines a controversial portion of El Paso’s history.

Jonna Perillo

“Educating the Enemy: Teaching Nazis and Mexicans in the Cold War Borderlands” by Jonna Perillo contrasts the education that El Paso provided to the children of Nazi scientists living at Fort Bliss with the education provided to Mexican American children enrolled in El Paso’s public schools. For the Nazi children, their schooling was somewhat privileged and aimed at assimilating them into the U.S. culture. For the Mexican American children attending segregated schools, their education was a struggle.

Perrillo is an English education professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the author of “Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and the Battle for School Equity,” published by the University of Chicago Press. 

“’Educating the Enemy’ isn’t only a fascinating case study of Operation Paperclip, it’s also a damning condemnation of a racial and educational system in the United States that found more in common between white Americans and former Nazis than between white Americans and their Mexican American neighbors. It’s a timely contribution to thinking about how we continue to treat Mexican Americans, Mexican immigrants, and Latinos in general as dangerous outsiders.”

Gerardo Cadava, Northwestern University

Reading Schedule

  • April 4-11, p.1-22
  • April 12 -18, p.23-45
  • April 19-25, p.46-66
  • April 26-May 2, p.67-88
  • May 3-9, p.89-110
  • May 10-16, p.111-134
  • May 17-23, p.135-149 
  • May 24 In-person discussion (tentative date) 
  • May 25 Virtual discussion (tentative date)

How to get the book

Thank you for joining a community of readers who love El Paso!

Thank you to everyone who purchased the first El Paso Matters Book Club book at Literarity Book Shop. We sold over 100 copies of “Thirty Talks Weird Love” and raised more than $1,600 for El Paso Matters. Last month about 50 book club members joined us in person for a meaningful discussion with the author, Alessandra Narváez Varela, while another 20 members joined us on Zoom. Almost 800 people are now signed up for our book club newsletter and more than 200 members have joined our private Facebook group.

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